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HMDs, The ultimate hardware for PC simulation pilots?

Written by George E. Warren Jr.
Edited by Jacob E. Warren


  Paul Travers of Interactive Imaging Systems;

"The HMDs of the past used very expensive displays primarily sourced from Japan.  The next generation of IPDs (note; IIS term for HMD) to be successful, will need to be based on a much less expensive display.  These new displays are on the horizon from many US based companies.  Of course, the displays are only a part of the cost problem.  Electronics integration and packaging also will determine cost.  The winners in this market will need to address all of these issues.

"On the product liability issue, IIS has shipped over 14,000 IPDs with not a single product liability problem.  To be safe, there are some rules that need to be followed and good design is required to make the display system comfortable and non-straining for the user.  If it is a strain for the user, they simply will not be able to use the product for any length of time, much like a poor fitting pair of swim goggles.

"To some degree, we believe that this issue has been blow out of proportion (probably because it is a (potential) problem area that receives attention by the media. Finally, there are three very large Japanese companies presently shipping HMDs. In order for them to be doing this they must also feel comfortable about the product liability issue.

"As for market size, the IPD is going to be part of everyday life. Applications will reach a point to where they will be unable to be used without one (much like the mouse is today.)  At that point in time it is conceivable that every PC and home entertainment system will have at least one."

Kiera Reilly
Marketing Operations Manager of n-vision®

In a phone conversation Kiera stated that some of the reasons for the high cost of HMDs are the optics, especially for the wide field of view units, and the electronics. She does not believe that motion sickness is much of an issue, as n-vision has not encountered any real problems with this. N-vision dose not have the resources to mass produce HMD for a consumer market, and Kiera stated that the consumer is not going to be happy with an HMD purchase unless the visual quality is equal to what he or she will see on their computer monitor.

She also feels that the consumer is going to expect a fairly wide field of view. While HMDs with such performance are available from n-vision, they are simply too expensive to produce at a price the consumer market can even begin to accept.

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Tom Knoflick
VP - Marketing & Sales of
iReality Company and subsidiaries VRooMCOM Inc. & General Reality Company

"There are many reasons why a HMD is not available for the home entertainment market. Several companies including Nintendo, Sega, and Sony have considered the HMD and probably could have produced them at a low enough price point to make them marketable. I believe the main opposition to HMDs in the home involved safety issues (leading to insurance issues), hygienic issues, and concerns about wearing a HMD for a long time period.

"I believe that a simple, easy to wear, HMD or eyeglass will someday be purchased for home use. It may need to be see-through to avoid some of the safety issues, and it definitely needs to be hygienically clean and comfortable to wear. iReality Company, the new name for VRooMCOM Inc. and General Reality Company, fully intends to be a player in this market because of our long history in providing low cost VR solutions to the simulation and game markets, and because of our future vision and direction to provide interactive 3D solutions to the Internet."

Tony Havelka of Tek Gear;

"In my opinion, there isn't an HMD for the home sim market because of a few reasons. First, market risk. Companies such as Sega, Virtual I/O, VictorMaxx, Forte, Phillips and others have tried and not got very far in that market because they did not have a handle on the market. Smaller companies cannot venture into this market as they do not have the resources to produce 100,000's of headset based upon a speculative market.

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Last Updated November 5th, 1999

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